Sports Medicine

How To Treat A Pulled Hamstring

How To Treat A Pulled Hamstring

Suffering a pulled hamstring muscle in your leg is not uncommon. In fact most of us who are athletic will likely suffer a pulled hamstring in one leg or the other at least once or twice in our lifetime. While a pulled hamstring muscle is painful and can seem frightening when it happens, it is not typically a serious injury. Most cases can be self treated at home with proper care and rest. Allowing enough recovery time will permit the injury to heal and the muscle of the leg to be restored to full function once again.


Your hamstring is actually a group of muscles on the back of each leg. They work together with other muscles for allowing one to balance when standing and for precise leg movement when walking, running, bending, jumping and exercising. They run from the area of the buttocks to the back of the knee where they wrap firmly around the sides of the leg in the knee region. During exercise or extreme exertion, the chance of suffering an injury to all muscles of the body, including this one, are increased. In fact, being one of the muscles heavily used in most all exercise and exertion, it is rather easy to overuse and “pull” a hamstring muscle. Most often people who suffer a pulled hamstring find it occurs when running hard and fast or suddenly sprinting. This can happen even when running short distances. The person may feel a sharp and sudden pain in the back of their leg that may even cause them the need to stop or sit down quickly during exertion. Activities where sudden and extreme sprinting in one direction periodically occur are sports like football,, soccer, rugby and tennis for example. Participating in this variety of sport without being properly warmed up and stretching before starting can lead to this type of injury.

Injury Therapy

If an injury to your hamstring muscle does occur, you will want to follow the correct procedure for treating and curing the problem. Sports doctors rate the level of injury with a pulled hamstring muscle at 1,2,3, or 4, with level 1 being the least serious and most common. Many experts recommend the application of the R-I-C-E procedure. The “R” represents the necessity to rest the injury for giving it proper time to heal. The “I” stands for the application of ice to the injured area until any swelling goes away. Typically 10 minutes of applying ice alternating with 10 minutes off with no ice is best. This will do the most good for quickly reducing any swelling and provide the fastest recovery time. The “C” means compression of the area after the swelling has gone away. Firmly wrapping the area using an elastic bandage without making it too tight can aid in recovery. This is especially helpful when the injured person needs to get up and move around periodically. The “E” represents elevation. Keeping the injured leg elevated and at rest will assist in speeding up recovery time by allowing the injured muscles to heal faster. Most injuries do not require an operation or surgery for healing. For the majority of athletes who injure their hamstring muscle, the R-I-C-E technique and painkillers are sufficient until the muscle injury is resolved.



The best way to prevent a pulled hamstring muscle is to be properly warmed up by engaging in stretching exercises before working out or participating in sporting events. One of the most effective methods for stretching to prevent a pulled hamstring muscle is called “static stretching”. Basically this consists of the body being at rest by sitting, for example, when stretching. Start by sitting down with your back straight and your legs flat on the floor in front of you with your toes pointing toward the ceiling. Next simply reach forward and touch the tips of your toes with your fingers. Hold the position for 30 seconds. You should do 2-3 sets with about a minute rest in between stretches. If you want to more effectively lengthen the hamstring muscles for preventing injury, hold the position when stretching for 2 full minutes each time. Allow another 2 minutes of rest between stretches and complete 2-3 sets.

Taking proper precaution by warming up and stretching before participating in any sporting event or running will prevent most occurrences of a pulled hamstring muscle. If an injury does occur, implementing the prescribed therapy mentioned above will help you quickly get on your feet and back in the action.